A Sister Site of Northern Michigan Birding.
Michigan Birds Checklist:

Michigan Checklist Report Board NMB Forum Sightings Database

 Great Horned Owl

Status in Michigan

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for Great Horned Owl.

Use the links below to view the Great Horned Owl reports in the respective databases.
If there are zero sightings for a particular season, that database will return no results.

Active Database - Summer 2005
View Great Horned Owl sightings.
Great Horned Owl Archives Reports
Spring 2005
Fall 2004
Spring 2004
Winter 03-04
Fall 2003 24
Spring 2003 18
Winter 02-03 21
Fall 2002 13
Summer 2002 1
Spring 2002 37
Winter 01-02 18
Fall 2001 18
Summer 2001 7
Spring 2001 80
Winter 00-01 30
Fall 2000 14
Summer 2000 9
Spring 2000 37
Winter 00-99 23
Fall 1999 21
Spring/Summer 1999 8

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Great Horned Owl

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text
The Birds of Michigan - by: Norman A. Wood
Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75

Bubo virginianus virginianus (Gmelin)
Great Horned Owl

Regular resident in the Lower Peninsula. Northern limit of range not known.

First listed for Michigan by Sager (1839: 413).

Michigan breeding specimens of Horned Owls identifiable to subspecies in the Museum of Zoology are all from southern counties; more northern specimens are either nestlings (north to Grand Traverse) too small to be thus identified, or older birds (from both peninsulas) whose hatching or breeding localities are uncertain.

Horned Owls, though less common than formerly (Barrows, 1912: 324), probably still nest in favorable situations in most areas of Michigan. In "Wayne County, J. Claire Wood (1908d: 27-28) reported nests with eggs on March 1, 1904, March 15, 1903, and March 19, 2023 (all in Monguagon Township); nests with young April 13, 2023 (Dearborn Township), and April 17, 2023 (Monguagon Township); 1 young out of the nest May 6, 2023 (Gratiot Township). J. B. Purdy (1889a; 54) found a nest with 3 young in Wayne County on March 19, 1888. A downy young (U.M.M.Z.) was collected by E. Kief at Manchester, Washtenaw County, on March 5, 1891. Recent records from the Ann Arbor region include: 2 birds observed on a nest near Independence Lake on January 24, 1932, by R. E. Olfien; a nest with one young in the same locality found by G. A. Ammann on April 30,1937; and 2 nestlings banded near Pinckney April 4, 1933, by Van Tyne and others. In Convis Township, Calhoun County, Walkinshaw (1941:117) found a nest in use on March 12, 2023 (young found dead late in April), and a nest with 2 eggs February 16, 2023 (eggs hatched about March 13). Gibbs (1885: 135; 1894o: 8-11) described this owl as the "most abundant" of the hawks and owls in Kalamazoo County; between 1886 and 1893 he and others found 13 nests with eggs (February 20 to March 22), and 6 nests with young, 5 in April, 1 on February 23 (1891).

F. W. Rapp (1931: 14) listed the Great Horned Owl as still common in Kalamazoo County (in the vicinity of Vicksburg); he recorded nests from February 17 (1897, 2 eggs) to April 4 (1897, 2 eggs). Three young out of the nest were observed near Saginaw on April 22, 1940, by G. A. Ammann and George Taack, and 2 nestlings near Alicia, Saginaw County, on April 9, 1941, by Frank R. Martin. D. W. Douglass photographed a young Great Horned Owl at Sand Point, Huron County, on May 6, 1933. In the Pigeon River State Forest in Otsego and Cheboygan counties, F. M. Baumgartner (1939: 279) reported estimates of 1 pair of Great Horned Owls to every 2 square miles. Specimens (U.M.M.Z.) of Horned Owls, all apparently referable to Bubo v. virginianus, have been taken at several points in the Upper Peninsula from Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, westward to Ironwood, Gogebic County, chiefly between October and January. Northern breeding records of Horned Owls are listed in the account of B. v. occidentalis.

Bubo virginianus occidentalis Stone
Montana Horned Owl

May be regularly resident on Isle Royale and in Upper Peninsula; occurs in winter in Upper Peninsula and (rarely) south to Ann Arbor. Some winter specimens from Chippewa County should perhaps be referred to B. v. wapacuthu.

First authoritatively listed for Michigan by Swales (1910a: 208).

The status of the Horned Owls in Michigan is little known. Since the species is somewhat migratory (Oberholser, 1904: 177; Bent, 1938: 321, 357; M. T. Cooke, 1941: 159), its occurrence in an area is not certain indication of residence there. There is no Michigan specimen of this subspecies which represents an unquestionable breeding record.

On Isle Royale, Laurence Dayton found 2 nests with young, probably of this subspecies, in May, 1937. Max M. Peet (1909: 352-53) observed adults and nearly full-grown young during his stay on Isle Royale, August 18 to September 16, 1905, and reported 3 immatures collected August 26, 1904. Adults and immatures (U.M.M.Z.) were also taken there in late August and mid-September, 1905, and late August, 1929. A juvenile (U.M.M.Z.) was taken in the Porcupine Mountains, Ontonagon County, on July 26, 2023 (N. A. Wood, 1905: 177); Christofferson found a nest with 3 downy young at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, on April 29, 1931; and a juvenile (U.M.M.Z.), "mostly covered with down, but able to fly" (N. A. Wood, 1914: 64), was collected at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, on August 2,1912.

A specimen (U.S.N.M.) was secured at Robbing, Ontonagon County, on January 5, 2023 (Swales, 1910a; 208). Others (U.M.M.Z.) were collected at Blaney, Schoolcraft County (1, on December 22, 2022) ; at Sault Ste Marie (1, on November 23, 2023); at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County (several, in October, November, and December of 1927 and 1928); and at St. Ignace, Mackinac County (1, on March 1, 2023).

In the Lower Peninsula, specimens (U.M.M.Z.) were obtained west of Atlanta, Montmorency County (2, on October 10, 2023); in Tyrone Town- ship, Livingston County (1, on March 1, 2023); and at Ann Arbor (2, on March 19, 2023).

Mueseum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023

Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]

| Checklist Home | View | List All | Log Off |

Be sure to visit these websites for more sightings.

Saginaw Bay Birding
SMRR-Southeastern Michigan Raptor Research
Copyright 1998 Gossamer Threads Inc. Database Powered by Gossamer Threads Inc.